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US Coast Guard Ship To Attempt Rescue of 2 Icebreakers In Antarctica 382

PolygamousRanchKid writes "A U.S. Coast Guard heavy icebreaker left Australia for Antarctica on Sunday to rescue more than 120 crew members aboard two icebreakers trapped in pack ice near the frozen continent's eastern edge, officials said. The 399-foot cutter, the Polar Star, is responding to a Jan. 3 request from Australia, Russia and China to assist the Russian and Chinese ships because 'there is sufficient concern that the vessels may not be able to free themselves from the ice,' the Coast Guard said in a statement. The Australian Maritime Safety Authority's Rescue Coordination Centre, which oversaw the rescue, said the Polar Star, the Coast Guard's only active heavy polar icebreaker, would take about seven days to reach Commonwealth Bay, depending on weather. Under international conventions observed by most countries, ships' crews are obliged to take part in such rescues and the owners carry the costs."
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US Coast Guard Ship To Attempt Rescue of 2 Icebreakers In Antarctica

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  • by cold fjord ( 826450 ) on Sunday January 05, 2014 @12:13PM (#45870903)

    It will be interesting to see what happens next year.

    Tornado activity hits 60-year low []
    2013 Atlantic hurricane season wrap-up: least active in 30 years []

  • by bunratty ( 545641 ) on Sunday January 05, 2014 @12:15PM (#45870917)
    Here's a graph [] that shows how you're looking at things. It's called cherry picking your data.
  • by Toe, The ( 545098 ) on Sunday January 05, 2014 @12:17PM (#45870927)

    There are some complex facts that usually don't get dragged into this discussion because they make it so much larger. But some interesting facts to color the warming issue are:

    1. We are currently in an ice age. The current Quaternary glaciation [] (i.e., the current ice age) started 2.5 million years ago.

    2. Within that ice age, we are in an interglacial: a period of temporary(?) warming within the ice age. Our current interglacial is the Holocene epoch [], which started 11,700 years ago.

    But as long as we still have ice caps, we are still in an ice age. If the ice caps melt, we'll know the ice age is over and we're back to what is in fact more normal temperatures for Earth.

    However, it can't be said that Earth's normal warm is necessarily good for humanity. After all,

    3. Humans, as in the genus Homo, evolved around 2.5 million years ago []. The same time as the the beginning of the current ice age. In other words, the adversity of the Earth's freezing put heavy evolutionary pressure on our ape ancestors.

    So, cold = good? Well, remember the current interglacial started 11,700 years ago. Now that's interesting. The Old Stone Age [] begins with the first humans, that ~2.5 million years ago. But...

    4. The Middle Stone Age [] started right around when the interglacial started. That's when humans first began to make more advanced tools, create advanced art, develop spirituality, etc. In other words, when things warmed up a bit, humanity began to flourish.

    So what's good? Warm, cold, in-between? What's "natural?" 'Cause that seems to be extremely warm... unless you're talking about humans, then it's extremely cold. Or moderate.

    Complex, eh?

    Now, apart from global warming, the related issue that always gets short shrift is ocean acidification [], which is also caused by an abundance of CO2 in the atmosphere, and which appears to be a huge threat to life on Earth. But it's harder to understand than warming, so let's not talk about it.

  • by idji ( 984038 ) on Sunday January 05, 2014 @12:27PM (#45870987)
    go and look at Ozone depletion [] and see that the alarmism was worth it because the world did ban CFCs and the charts show the improvement since. What we need is global coordinated action on the issues of today
    Icebreakers being stuck in ice doesn't say much about climate change - incidents of such icebreakers stuck in ice over many decades may say something. Don't confuse an incident with a trend
    I am sure there are many stupid Americans in New England seeing how amazingly cold it is this week and mocking Climate Change. (I live in Central Europe and we have at the moment one of the hottest Januaries on record). Climate Change predicts weather extremes because there is more energy available in weather systems to push to hotter and colder extremes.
    That thick ice in Antarctica could be an example of climate change if, for example, more ice is rolling off the land faster, or climate change has changed currents to push more ice into that bay. Only objective longterm observations can help here.
    There are problems with Alarmism, but it was right with Acid Rain in the 1970s, leaded petrol and Ozone in the 80's - those problems were reversed - and the scientific community is in consensus that CO2 today is a far more serious issue and we need alarmism before we reach tipping points.
    I would rather take action with alarmism, then do nothing out of cynicism while species go extinct and Africans and Bangladeshis try to emigrate in their millions.
  • by bunratty ( 545641 ) on Sunday January 05, 2014 @12:37PM (#45871059)
    Not to mention that no matter what, we'll have to stop using fossil fuels one day because they'll simply run out. We have to develop alternative energy sources if we want to continue our current lifestyle with billions of humans on the planet.
  • Wind. Riiiiight... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by MacDork ( 560499 ) on Sunday January 05, 2014 @12:38PM (#45871065) Journal

    In this case it was wind, not temperatures, that has pushed the ice tightly together in the area where these ships are stuck.

    Remember, the original stuck Russian vessel was retracing the steps of a century old expedition. Funny how Sir Douglas Mawson's Antarctic expedition [] didn't have this problem back in 1911 despite the fact that

    Cape Denison proved to be unrelentingly windy; the average wind speed for the entire year was about 50 mph (80 km/h), with some winds approaching 200 mph.

  • by MacDork ( 560499 ) on Sunday January 05, 2014 @01:12PM (#45871321) Journal

    The reason you warmers fail is precisely because you treat people like they are stupid. You know what else is acidified with CO2? Soda. Soda doesn't scare anybody. Normal people understand fish don't want to swim in soda anymore than plants crave Brawdo, but when they ask "How much will it acidify?" your attempt to deceive them with what you admit is a very small number is uncovered and you lose their trust.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 05, 2014 @03:27PM (#45872309)

    As I see it, the problem with the term "global warming", despite its accuracy, is that the layperson (who votes) sees reports on increased Antarctic snowfall, record-breaking cold winters, and other "cold" events, and then interprets these as evidence that global warning is just so much hooey. They don't have the time or inclination to go beyond the shallowest investigation to see that increased energy in the global climate easily explains such things (OK, and ordinary variations in weather, which is often confused with climate). The term "Climate Change" is less likely to lead the unintentionally ignorant astray (no terminology will assuage the willfully ignorant).

    - T

  • by Egdiroh ( 1086111 ) on Sunday January 05, 2014 @07:05PM (#45873815)
    What did I make up? That if you zoom out far enough the climate is cooler now then the average. Nope I'm pretty sure that's agreed upon by most. The implicit fact that that makes the prior argument invalid? Nope that's just logic. (It should be noted the an argument being logically invalid does not negate or affirm it's conclusion). That we are naive when it comes to climate science? Again, this one I'm pretty sure of, I've heard many climate experts say that mankind is the species that has impacted the environment the most, but I'm pretty sure that that distinction goes to the species of bacteria that evolved into chloroplasts.

    You seem to have refuted my point about how well we understand the environment, with a couple of examples of similarly complicated systems that we are making great strides with. First of all there is the logical fallacy that progress in some complex systems implies progress in others. That's just not a sound way to refute the point. I'm considered an expert in somethings but that doesn't mean I'm an expert in everything. Then there are the examples of complex things that we have "mastered". Let's start at the Human body. Drug companies, who tend to hire some of the people that know the most about the human body end up with a lot of failed attempts at new drugs. Some of the time it happens because of unintended consequences, but a lot of the time it's because a correlation that was thought to be causal turned out not to be. ( Here's a wired article about the phenomena [] ). The other is space. Sure we have some successes but we also have a number of failures. In late 2011 we were looking at abandoning the ISS because of a string of Souyez rocket malfunctions. Also of the 3 mars missions launched during the 2011 launch window, only 1 (that's 33%) reached mars, so while Curiosity is cool, it's the exception not the rule. So to say that we've mastered either field is also not logically valid. Of course in both of those fields we can perform somewhat rigorous experiments so our progress is also faster.

    That's not to say that there is necessarily anything wrong with naive science. Our understanding of gravity is still undergoing refinement, but it's force has been part of our engineering for quite some time. But having a naivety of gravity employed in a lot of the engineering hasn't been a downfall. I would say that the goal should be to know when you are doing naive science and respond accordingly perhaps by leaving terms in generic equations abstract, so that they are more readily adjusted if need be or can have more complex expressions plugged in as appropriate (for example gravitational attraction to the earth).

    But on the whole your comment as an attempt to refute mine was trash. You start off with an attack, which is not a logically valid method of refutation, and justify the attack with a logically invalid argument that was based on logically invalid arguments. Then you go on talking about climate experts (which I denied the current existence of and you failed to validly refute), which you then use to declare your attempt to refute my comment successful, which does not logically make it so.

    My comments were about logical validity, the absolute level of our understanding of the climate, and how the nature of our academic system interacts with fields like the climate that are very hard to study. I'm happy to go off on tangents relative to discussing those topics, but if what you're really trying to do is show me to the curb because you think I'm denying climate change, then you can rest assured that that is not my goal at all.

"Well, it don't make the sun shine, but at least it don't deepen the shit." -- Straiter Empy, in _Riddley_Walker_ by Russell Hoban